Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lecture Review #2: Matteo Bittanti

Visiting Artists Lecture Series



Matteo Bittanti is a professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, instructing Game Studies. He's own research is an interest in the cultural impact of emerging technologies and video games within popular culture and the arts. He received his Ph.D in New Media Studies at IULM University in Milan along with his Masters of Science in Communications at San Jose' State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Media Studies in Milan. He is the director of http://www.ludologica.com/ , http://www.videoludica.com/ along with http://www.gamescenes.org/ Game Culture where he keeps a running blog on the newest artists in the video gaming arts and their use of the gaming scene. He also writes for Wired, a monthly magazine that follows the continuing effect of technologies on culture, economy and politics.
He describes his own lifestyle to be a procrastinator by profession, living the Italian life of leisure while he indulges his love for video games and media for income. He used this love to create a profession in analyzing the things he liked, writing editorials, thesis, and basically connected the dots in relating things in the gaming and visual media scene. The Game Scenes book, he says, attempts to map out the art and game world using video games to comment on societies values and beliefs. He researches the internet and collects related art, games and artists to a larger whole, where he then creates a collective and sometimes a gallery or exhibition of these materials.
Battanti and Kristoffer Zetterstrand from Sweden are collaborating on a book based on the trends of the new development of language and reinvention of reproduced games of the 1980's in the form of pixel art in the form of sculpture and 2d design. Zetterstrand has currently been working on a slow motion version art representative of Street Fighter, forcing critical thinking on games, their storyline and context.
He continued his lecture by showing random artists working with 80's simple colors and landscapes having been repainted, rebuilt, or even enshrining controllers under glass in museums. Other artists talked about had been using war games to comment on society and politics today. Some of these war statements being video art of performances or interactive sculpture. A recreation of the story War Games is juxtaposed with soothing music while the computer strategises the action of nuclear war and the complete destruction of the earth and its people within the push of a button. Real time war footage and recreated video game footage from Call of Duty 4 Modern War Fare are being placed together along with the conversations from live captured war communication and the recreated simulation. This work is being presented at the Guggenheim YouTube Gallery. The simulation of these videos are so close to the real thing it becomes hard to separate the two of which is real and which is fictional. Work out of New York and London have seen artists working with the old arcade cabinets and turning arcade rooms into art galleries with live preforming street bands and artists. Some artists have been working with pixelated photography creating game like landscapes and environments and pixelating the people within as they fit them into the space created.
Matteo's own work has seen the placement of Obama ads and stickers within war and criminal games as a tongue in cheek stab at Obama's own statement that video games are a waste of time and that kids today should be outside away from these things. However, Obama's presidential campaign was the first to go across all media and was even seen in video games released during his run for office to encourage gamers to vote for him. Matteo's reproductions of these ads place stickers, symbols, statements and posters all within graffiti, billboards and bumper stickers of these games. Other work has seen video displayed upon 9 screens in gallery spaces of recordings of several different cities and high speed car races through the streets of cities like Paris and London. Or the slowed to almost painful time, games which are meant to be played fast and almost without thought as the player hurls himself over buildings and through streets. One video produced in this manor was Bruno which was a dedication to his good friend who had committed suicide by jumping off a building to his death.
He ended by answering several questions. One asked was; given games normally have intent and objective, what becomes the intent when these are placed in a gallery? What becomes the objective? He stated that the art creates the new objective and breaks or becomes against the rules. What was once the normal context or objective of the original game, has now become up to the creator or the observer. Another question was; how did he get to his job and position now? He was a gamer since a child and as growing up 'sucks' he decided to continue this love of playing around as he has always done within a profession. Why do people game? As a vicarious style of living or being out of your own world and into some fantasy. A way of control and just basic fun. He said if they made a game out of shopping he'd be happy to shop all day everyday.  

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